National News

The Official Kickoff of the 2016 Presidential Race: The Iowa Caucuses

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The first-in-the-nation vote spoke when it selected Texas Senator Ted Cruz as the winner of the Republican Iowa Caucus and ended in a “virtual tie” between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic race.

On Monday, Feb. 1, Iowans gathered to have the first official say in the 2016 race for the White House of whom they’d like to be elected as the next President of the United States. Residents convened at numerous sites all over the Hawkeye state to caucus for the 2016 presidential candidates of their choice.

Just a little before 10:30 p.m., Texas Senator Ted Cruz was reported as the projected winner of the Republican Iowa Caucus with a 4% lead over long-time frontrunner Donald Trump. This came as a shock to many, as it had long been predicted that Trump would be the clear winner in Iowa.

The Democratic Iowa Caucus results between Clinton and Sanders were too close to even officially call until around late-morning the following day, despite both campaigns basically declaring victory on their own late Monday night.

However, after much discussion and argument between pundits across the media’s diverse spectrum, it was reported that all of the votes had officially been counted and that Hillary Clinton held a slight lead over Bernie Sanders in the Iowa race late Tuesday morning.

Clinton’s final victory was determined by what many believe is extremely unfair, but actually is simply the way a caucus that ends in a tie works: coin tosses. The tosses determine the final delegates that the candidates are awarded, and it was reported that Clinton surprisingly won six back-to-back coin tosses at a half-dozen Iowa precincts where the results were too close to call. This earned the candidate the remaining number of delegates that were needed to put her slightly, but officially ahead of Sanders in Iowa.

An additional shock in the GOP race was Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s third place win at 23%, which was only one percentage point behind Trump’s second place win at 24%. An electrified Rubio delivered the first celebratory speech of the evening, virtually seeming as though he himself was the first place Iowa victor.

Following a lengthy list of all the reasons why “they” [his critics] said he never had a chance in the Republican race for the White House, Rubio confidently stated, “But tonight, tonight here in Iowa, the people of this great state have sent a very clear message. After seven years of Barack Obama, we are not waiting any longer to take our country back.”

Almost immediately after Trump’s reported loss to Cruz, pundits on almost every news station covering the caucuses began to predict that a furious Trump would address his crowd in Iowa. However, shortly after the results were announced, Trump surprisingly delivered a very calm and gracious address that largely focused on his prediction of success in the next major votes in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

“We finished second, and I want to tell you something: I’m just honored. I’m really honored,” stated Trump. “…It’s going to be a great week. I think we’re going to be proclaiming victory, I hope.”

“I was shocked that it [the results of the Republican Iowa Caucus] was so close, but also at Donald Trump’s ability to gain so many votes despite him deciding to not show up for the debate so close to the caucus. I believe that if he had attended, Cruz most likely wouldn’t have earned that small lead over him,” stated senior political science major Jazmine Stevenson.

After Rubio and Trump’s speeches, the true first place winner of the evening finally delivered his victory speech, which focused primarily on thanking his grassroots supporters. Additionally, much of Cruz’s address discussed his strong belief that America is tired of Washington’s corruption and is ready for a [conservative] change. “Tonight is a victory for the grassroots. Tonight is a victory for courageous conservatives across Iowa, and all across this great nation. Tonight the state of Iowa has spoken,” stated Cruz.

Before Cruz’s victory speech was even finished, Clinton took to her stage to address her crowd, surprisingly seeming as though she was declaring victory over Sanders. The former Secretary of State was very careful to not actually state that she won; however, her and her crowd’s elated and relieved tone seemed by many to suggest that they were celebrating a victory.

“So as I stand here tonight, breathing a big sigh of relief, thank you, Iowa. I want you to know, I will keep doing what I have done my entire life. I will keep standing up for you. I will keep fighting for you. I will always work to achieve the America that I believe in, where the promise of that dream that we hold out to our children and our grandchildren never fades, but inspires generations to come. Join me, let’s go win the nomination,” stated Clinton.

Bernie Sanders then delivered his highly anticipated address following the reporting of an apparent tie between him and his opponent and the Clinton campaign’s virtual proclamation of victory. The beginning of his speech strategically reminded the crowd that the official results had not yet been reported and therefore, that the race was not over. Sanders’ speech additionally addressed how far he and his campaign have come since the announcement of his presidential bid many months ago.

“Thank you. Iowa, thank you. Nine months ago, we came to this beautiful state. We had no political organization; we had no money; no name recognition. And we were taking on the most powerful political organization in the United States of America. And tonight while the results are still not known, it looks like we are in a virtual tie,” stated Sanders.

The remaining Republican candidates that did not do as well as their first, second, and third placing opponents polled in at the following: Ben Carson with 9%, Rand Paul at 5%, Jeb Bush at 3%, John Kasich, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, and Chris Christie all at 2%, and Rick Santorum at 1%.

The additional remaining candidate on Democratic side, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, polled nowhere near Clinton and Sanders. O’Malley finished the evening at 1% and subsequently, ended his campaign.

In the GOP race, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee also ended his campaign on the night of the Iowa Caucus. Two days later, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum announced the suspension of their campaigns for president.

The next vote in the primary elections will occur on Tuesday, Feb. 9 in the state of New Hampshire. Most of the candidates from both parties traveled to the Granite state to campaign and rally support immediately after the Iowa Caucus, most before the night was even over.

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